Uber didn’t suspend drivers accused of driving drunk, regulators say

Uber faces a $1.1 million fine after state regulators say the ride-hailing company failed to promptly suspend drivers accused of driving under the influence.

In 151 cases between August 12, 2014 and August 31, 2015, Uber did not suspend or investigate drivers accused of DUI, according to the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates ride-hailing companies. The commission proposes a $7,500 fine per violation.

The commission filed an order opening an investigation into Uber’s practices Tuesday, which became public Wednesday evening. Uber now has a chance to defend itself before an administrative law judge.

Uber says it already has fixed the issues from 2014 and 2015 detailed in Tuesday’s order, and now suspends drivers immediately following a passenger’s DUI complaint.

The startup says it is assessing its options regarding the potential fine.

Ride-hailing companies in California, by law, must adhere to a “zero tolerance” intoxication policy, under which the company must post a phone number and email address that lets passengers report DUI complaints. After a complaint is received, the company is required to “promptly” suspend that driver for further investigation.

“Failure to suspend a driver promptly after receiving a zero tolerance complaint is a serious violation of the TNC rules because it places passengers and the public at immediate risk,” the regulators wrote.

That’s because unlike other charter vehicle companies, Uber doesn’t have to enroll in a controlled substance and alcohol testing program.

But out of the 154 DUI complaints regulators reviewed, Uber suspended the driver within an hour of the passenger’s complaint in just 22 cases — and even in those 22 cases, Uber’s records offered contradictory information about whether the drivers were suspended, according to the order.

Regulators found at least 89 instances where a driver remained logged into the Uber app within one hour after a passenger filed a DUI complain, and 64 cases where a driver continued to provide one or more rides.

In “many instances,” regulators found no evidence that Uber followed up in a timely manner with a DUI complaint.

Regulators also took issue with Uber’s methods of confirming a DUI complaint. Uber requires an admission by a driver, a DUI arrest or conviction, a blood-alcohol test or video or physical evidence — all of which the commission says Uber is unlikely to obtain.

Photo: This file photo taken on March 10, 2016 shows a man checking a vehicle at an Uber ‘Work On Demand’ recruitment event in Los Angeles. (Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)






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